According to a forecast by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will not add a periscope lens to iPhones until 2023. But the company is definitely working on the subject and holds at least two patents on periscopes.
One was unearthed by Apple obviously earlier today and shows a periscope system with two prisms and a stack of lenses in between. This stack will provide autofocus and can also be configured to perform optical image stabilization.
This is interesting because the typical periscopes we have seen in smartphones have only one lens and it is also used for OIS purposes, not the lenses that follow it. Apple’s patent, however, offers the possibility of using one or both prisms to make OIS.
It seems that the main concerns are to keep the module thin (small height z) and keep the aperture at f/2.4 or brighter. The patent only mentions the 3x optical zoom, which is also achievable with traditional lenses.
Yesterday, Elec reported that LG InnoTek and Corning are researching liquid lenses and have filed nine patents in the United States (which belong to 50/50). The two companies also shared several other related patents in the United States and Korea.
The first liquid lens on mobile was presented on Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Fold, where it was used to turn the telephoto lens (normally used for enlarged photos) into a macro lens that can focus at just 3 cm.
Apparently, liquid lenses also have applications in periscope designs. One insider claims that this can be used to bypass periscope zoom patents held by Samsung’s subsidiary, Corephotonics. There’s a bit of history here, as Corephotonics filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2019 for violating several of its patents by iPhones’ dual-camera technology.
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